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Psyched!

[whitespace] Bible of garage rock reissued in a box

Various Artists
Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968
Rhino

THEY SAY you always return to the music of your youth, so in the spirit of public disclosure I offer this fact: I was weaned on a steady diet of psychedelic nuggets.

Fuzz tone, feedback, and swirling Farfisa organs--I couldn't get enough of 'em. The Standells, the Shadows of Knight, the Count Five--all were staples on my cheesy Sears & Roebuck phonograph.

That said, Nuggets--newly reissued as a four-CD box set, replete with 118 tracks and a 98-page color booklet--is something of a nugget itself. Originally released in 1972 as a two-LP anthology (compiled by Lenny Kaye, who went on to fame as punk diva Patti Smith's guitarist and musical collaborator), the collection is one of the few sets consistently included on lists of all-time greatest rock albums.

In this digital age, Santa Monica-based Rhino Records several years ago released Nuggets as three separate CD volumes. This beefed-up version (which features the original two-LP version on one glorious disc) underscores the lingering influence of a subgenre that can still be heard on college radio (thanks to garage bands like the Lyres) and as source material for psychobilly bands like the Cramps and even Neil Young (who covered the Premier's party hit "Farmer John," which is included here).

While some of these tunes are featured on classic rock stations--most notably the Standells' 1965 hit "Dirty Water" and the Kingsmen's 1963 masterpiece "Louie Louie"--most of these truly qualify as nuggets of the psychedelic era. And you'd be surprised how many big-name then-unknowns pop up: John Fogerty (the Golliwogs), Todd Rundgren (Nazz), Ted Nugent (Amboy Dukes), Dan Hicks (the Charlatans).

But some of the best stuff is the hard-to-find long-out-of-print singles by regional teen bands who locked on to a blues groove here, a Yardbirds lick there, and ran with it for two minutes of unadulterated proto-punk garage rock. Case in point: "Primitive" by the Groupies, a New York band that transformed a rather poorly played guitar riff from Howlin' Wolf's trademark "Smokestack Lightning" into a monster track of malevolent mood.

An absolute must for any serious rock hound.
GREG CAHILL


Patty Griffin
Flaming Red
A&M

IN GENERATION LILITH, Patty Griffin is a cut above the pack--a tough rocker who's not self-absorbed like Courtney Love, an emo-folkie who's not juvenile like Jewel, an idealist-dreamer who's not vague like Sarah McLachlan. Her deepest strength is a soul-baring humanism that hits universals via detailed portraits. The new track "Tony," for example, has as its object a suicidal homosexual teen, but its subject is the pervasive doubt that we all use to block human contact. Griffin's new disc, Flaming Red, falls short of her gripping debut Living with Ghosts not because she replaces the debut's acoustic starkness with a full-bore modern-rock sound, but because she doesn't offer enough colorful portraits like "Tony" or the stunning stories "Poor Man's House" and "Sweet Lorraine" from the debut. Still, her willingness to streamline her writing while exploding her sound is the sign of a brave artist who is pushing her audience to join her where her "heart is big and sore."
KARL BYRN

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From the September 24-30, 1998 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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